Among the first industries in Neoga was the. Hooppole industry. The settlers on Mule Creek and along the Little Wabash cut white oak and hickory poles eight feet long. two inches in diameter at the butt, and one-half inch at the tip. Mr. John Husband bought these for shipment to barrel factories. These poles were used to encircle barrels of pickled fish, flour, salt, pickles, kraut ctc., but many were sold for baling hay or cotton. Tin hoops and baling wire ended this industry. In the 1880's and 1890's, F. D. Voris helped to make Neoga the hay center of the United States and became president of the Hay Growers' Association of the United States. In Neoga's "hay- day", the Kingman family owned and "operated" about 1600 acres of timothy hay. In the 1800's H.A. Aldrich, F.D. Voris, and Ed Kraft were pioneers in apple production. In 1897 at about thirty cents per bushel, there were 50,000 bushels of apples shipped from Neoga. A 120 acre plot west of Neoga was for years the experimental station of the University of Illinois and was rated the finest orchard in Illinois. Other names connected with the apple and peach industry are: Newton Capps, Clarence Wallace, Elmer Coen, Everett Garrett, Ben Uran, Clark Young, Charles Allen, Charles Wolke, Ivimby Soliday, Russell Loveall, Norbert Moran, Frank Grewel, and Gray Gatlin.
Besides these there have been a tile industry, grist rnills, broom corn buying and shipping, a glove factory, and three factories which produce articles of wearing apparel for women and men. This was taken from October 4. 1900, Greenup Press: "F.D. Voris received notice that his apples had takcri several second premiums at the World's Fair at Paris, France, and they would have taken first had they not been pulled a little green. The French people have a big advantage because they can leave their fruit on the trees two weeks that it takes to ship them from here. He also got eight or ten premiums at the State Fair at Springfield this week."
Powell's (Neoga Stearn Bakery)1902-1932 served towns within a 50-mile radius, the output at one time being 500,000 loaves of bread.
Neoga - This village is pleasantly situated on the Illinois Central Railroad, upon the western confines of the county, and boasts of being the largest town in population in the county, as well as one of its principal commercial centers. Situated, as it is, in the midst of one of the finest agricultural regions in the State, with an energetic, go ahead, intelligent farming population to back it, it has all the material advantages abundantly supplied to contribute to its commercial and social prosperity. The village was platted in 1856, on land owned by the Illinois Central Railroad, and BACON & JENNINGS, speculators, who had purchased the land. The name is of Indian origin, and signifies "a deer." The station bore this name before the town was thought of, but is quite appropriate to the region where deer were once so numerous. The first train of cars ran through the place August 1, 1854, and killed a bull belonging to S. PARKS. It appears that the bull was of a belligerent disposition, and had learned to lock horns with everything that crossed its pathway. But this was an untried experiment, and he found himself worsted and set to the pastures of his fathers to graze in pieces. The first dwelling-house erected in the village was built by Dr. G.W. ALBIN. The first business house was built by Wm. HOUSE, who also opened the first store; the first hotel was built and kept by C.D. GREEN, Sr; the first postmaster was G.W. ALBIN; the first Justice of the Peace was Philip WELCHEIMER, the first sermon ever preached in the place was delivered by Rev. Joseph WILSON, of the Presbyterian Church; the first station agent was Capt. HEUTIG; the first church was built by the Presbyterians in 1854; and the first saloon ever kept in the village was owned by T. PATTERSON. In 1868, the Methodist denomination erected a fine place of worship, and the Baptist in 1872. The following interesting sketch of the Presbyterian Church is written by Rev. Mr. WILSON, and is given place, as follows:
"The Presbyterian Church of Neoga originated in two parts. The first part was organized April 5, 1851, by the Rev. John H. RUSS, of Alton Presbytery, at the house of John G. MORRISON, at Long Point, about 4 miles southeast of Neoga. The spot was central to the population and had begun to be a center of business. The original ten members of the church were, Jno. G. MORRISON and Eliza N. MORRISON, his wife; James H. MORRISON and Sarah C. MORRISON, his wife; Nathan GOULD and Martha R. GOULD, his wife; Sarah MORRISON, Margaret MORRISON, Tirzah MORRISON and Mary Ann PARKERSON. Nathan GOULD and John G. MORRISON were chosen elders. The church voted to be called "The Presbyterian Church of Long Point", and to apply to the Wabash Presbytery to be taken under its care. Rev. John H. RUSS supplied the church for two years, one fourth of the time; Rev. Joseph WILSON was supply for one-half of the time, from the Spring of 1854 till October, 1866, with the exception of a few months between September 1857 and April, 1858, during which Rev. Samuel WARD was supply for the whole time. During the ministry of Mr. WILSON, a church building was erected at Neoga, in size 53 feet by 36, at a cost of nearly $3,000. It was dedicated April 29, 1860, during a session of Wabash Presbytery with that church. The sermon on the occasion was preached by Rev. W.R. PALMER, of Danville. The Presbytery changed the name of the church to "The First Presbyterian Church of Neoga." The change was made because Neoga had been established as a station of the central Railroad, and was the more promising church center, as well as business center. October 1, 1865, Rev. James B. BRANDT became supply pastor.
"The other part of the Neoga church was organized September 30, 1857, by Rev. James MCDONALD and Elders I.J. MONFORT and David DRYDEN, committee of Palestine Presbytery, with these 13 members, viz.: James WILSON, Ann WILSON, Jonathan B. DRYDEN, Nancy F. DRYDEN, Hannah m. DRYDEN, Andrew H. GRAY, Mary GRAY, Joseph GIBSON, Maria J. GIBSON, John H. MCQUOWN, Robert M. HUNTER, Sarah HUNTER, Sarah C. GREENE, James WILSON. John H. MCQUOWN and Joseph GIBSON were chosen elders. Rev. R.K. LILLY, of Champaign, supplied the church one-half the time during the first year; Rev. John ELLIOTT, of Pleasant Prairie, one half the time for about 3 years. Rev. Nathaniel WILLIAMS, of Mattoon, was supply when this church united with the First Church.
"Up to June 9, 1866, 15 years, the First Church of Neoga, N.S., had received 110 members, and the Church of Neoga O.S. had received 48 members. At that date the 2 churches became one, anticipating the re-union of the two branches of the Presbyterian Church by about 4 years. According to previous arrangements, the elders of both churches resigned; the united church voted to connect with Wabash Presbytery. Seven elders were chosen, four from the N.S. part of the church and three from the O.S. part. They were: John. G. MORRISON, Edie STEWART, Alexander B. EWING, William CLARK, Joseph GIBSON, John R. MITCHELL and James EWING. Rev. John B. BRANDT was chosen minister. He remained until October 1867. Rev. Wm. B. FARIS succeeded him in December 1868, and remained until his death, November 4, 1871. December 28, 1871, Rev. N.S. DICKEY was engaged for one year. December 31, 1872, Rev. J.M. JOHNSON became pastor, and still remains. The rotary system of eldership was adopted by the church. The present number of members is 142."
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Neoga is contributed as follows:
"The first class was formed in the village schoolhouse, about the year 1856, by Joseph BISHOP, a local preacher from the Long Point neighborhood, 4 miles southeast of the village, and who died in 1862, and J. WESLEY TURNER, an exhorter from the same neighborhood, who is now a physician in Fairmount, Ill. The class was quite small at the beginning, but soon increased in numbers. Among the first members were: J.T. WALLER, now an engineer on the Louisville & Nashville Railway; Fletcher CLEM, Miss Maria WALLER, Mrs. Wm. BELL, Miss Sarah E. BELL, Miss Hannah BELL, Mrs. Lucretia DAVIS and Wm. HIGGINS. S.T. ALLING, a physician, came to Neoga about this time, and became station agent for the Illinois Central Railroad, which position he continued to hold for about 20 years. Mr. and Mrs. ALLING were members of the Methodist Church, and may truly be said to have been the mainstay of the church in Neoga for many years.
"Rev. O'NEIL was the first preacher in charge, and preached in the village schoolhouse every two weeks. After the Presbyterian brethren erected their house of worship, it was allowed to be used by the Methodists for some years, but afterwards, for some reason, its use was denied them. They then used the schoolhouse, the hall and the Illinois Central railway depot until the building of their present house of worship in 1868. The following ministers, among others, have served the Neoga Methodist Church: Rev. Wm. MITCHELL, two years; Amos WEEDEN, one year; J. MUIRHEAD, one year; J.T. ORR, one year; Charles VANTREESE, one year; Isaiah VILLARS, two years; Rev. MORGAN, one year; J.F. MCCANN, one year; R.C. ST. CLAIR, one year; Salem HEDGES, two years; Peter SLAGLE, one year, J.W. ANDERSON, two years; Uriah WARRINGTON, one year; Frank POORMAN, one year; J.O. COLLINS, two years. H.C. TURNER is the present pastor, who is just closing up his second year. The Methodist Sabbath-school was begun in 1868, with Dr. S.T. ALLING, now of Champaign, Ill., as superintendent, which position he continued to fill very efficiently for about 10 years. C.D. GREENE was his successor, and he in turn was succeeded by Hamline JONES, the present superintendent. The school is in a flourishing condition.
"During the pastorate of the Rev. Isaiah VILLARS, 1867-1869, the present house of worship was begun and completed. It is a substantial brick structure, situated on the west side of the village; dimensions, 36 feet by 60 feet, and cost $5,000.
"The society numbers at the present time about 75 members, and is in a prosperous condition. It is only just to record the fact that in the erection of the church building, DR. ALLING, Henry REYNOLDS, uncle "Jacky" YOUNG and others bore a leading part in bearing the financial burdens incurred in the enterprise. The present Board of Trustees consists of the following gentlemen: Joseph M. YOUNG, C.D. GREENE, Wm. H. SINGER, Hamline JONES and Wesley HICKERNELL."
Neoga takes the lead among the villages of the county in neatness, in the moral tone of its community, and in business thrift. The men who first pitched their tents here, and were principally instrumental in forming the early character of the community, were men of culture, and the popular taste leads to the support of schools and churches, of public improvements, and to oppose those institutions that lead to a contrary result. Stock is closed out of the streets, the sidewalks are in good repair, and the village has a thrifty appearance. Among the earliest citizens of the village are named: P. WELCHIMER, G.W. ALBIN, S.D. PARKS., Wm. BELL, John YOUNG, C.D. GREEN, H.G.M. REYNOLDS, Thomas TEMPLETON, James HART, Simson KINGERY, James KINGERY, James EWING, J.G. MORRISON, Wm. HIGGINS, S.T. ALLING, J.R. ROGERS, N.C. GREENE, S.D. TAYLOR, Samuel DRYDEN, Thomas LACY, etc.
Situated upon the earliest line of railroad constructed through the territory of the county, the village had unrivaled advantages to grow, and considering that its origin was more of a speculation than a demand of the situation, it has made the most of its advantages. In 1875, the business of the village was summed up as follows: "2 drug stores, 3 dry goods stores, 1 hardware store, 2 confectionery stores, 2 millinery stores, 1 furniture store, 1 banking house, 2 grain establishments, 1 tailor shop, 2 shoe shops, 4 blacksmith shops, 1 silversmith, 1 mantuamaker, 2 wagon shops, 2 steam flour mills, 2 hotels, 1 livery stable, 1 printing office, 3 sewing machine offices, 1 jail house, (not very often used), 3 lawyers, 4 ministers.
"Neoga can boast of two as good grist-mills as there are in the country. The Neoga mill, owned by SINGER, WALLER & CO., is a fine establishment, and has a capacity of 50 barrels of flour, and 100 barrels of meal, per day of 12 hours run. It is supplied with a steam dryer for corn meal, a flour packer, and other modern improvements. The Neoga City Mills, owned by D.W. RAGSDALE, is also a very fine mill, and is noted for its good. work." There are now 12 business houses, and a grist-mill with a capacity of 60 barrels of flour, and 120 bushels of meal per day. It is provided with the roller process. The village was incorporated April 17, 1869, by an act of the legislalature.
1. Centennial Edition of The Neoga News, 1956.
2. 1956 Centennial Booklet edited by Agnes Voris copy kindly provided me by Robert Blomquist.

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